×

Jim Gaffigan Debuts His TV Land Show on His Site

“The Jim Gaffigan Show” will hit TV Land this summer — but the famously food-loving comedian Jim Gaffigan posted an episode of the sitcom on his site ahead of the premiere. Between shooting scenes for the show and enjoying a Philly cheesesteak for lunch, Gaffigan explained his decision to Variety, and vowed he’ll never go back to network TV.

Why did you decide to release an episode of your show on your site months before it will debut on TV Land?

The Internet is such an important tool in my standup career, in just connecting to people who can come to the shows. Letting people know that I’m performing at Madison Square Garden, you can either rely on the wire postings, or you can post it on Twitter, and at some point you develop a relationship with people that follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook. Why I wanted to post it to my website two months before it airs on TV Land is because TV Land … I’m not sure what channel it is on my dial.

The show had been developed for CBS, then got picked up by TV Land. Did that change anything for you?

(My wife) Jeannie (Noth) and I wanted to a do a show that we would watch. And you can tell people — or you can show people. It’s on TV Land. It used to be on CBS. I understand that there’s an expectation surrounding a standup comedian who has five kids that’s doing a TV show. There’s all this baggage. Jeannie and I really came to the conclusion that the only way to get over that is to show people. And we do have the confidence in this episode that it will show people that this is not the show they might think it would be.

We’re not going to have the budget to launch a “Black-ish.” We’re on a small network. We’re not on one of the big networks. I know of shows that are great, but they don’t get viewership because people don’t sample it. My motivation was that I want people to be able to sample this. I don’t care what network it is, as long as people can try the show. I’m confident in the content.

The website thing is, I’ve been doing things on the Internet, I’m selling the special on my website, I promote tours and sell tickets through my website. Jeannie kind of describes going to TV Land as “punk rock.” Which sounds kind of funny, right? We needed to do what we wanted to do. Through many years of developing this show and seeing how things can be done from a bureaucratic standpoint, and it really just comes down to me and Jeannie.

Because of this opportunity, I don’t think I can go back. I can’t go back to a network like CBS or deal with a studio like Sony. I could never. It’s over.

Was TV Land supportive when you told them you wanted to put the episode on your site?

(TV Land exec VP of development and original programming) Keith Cox was very supportive of it. It is rather unconventional. I’m 48; I’ve been at this for a while. Now I’m like, “I don’t care if you think I’m crazy.” I presented it to Keith, Keith heard me out, and he said, “OK. Let’s go.” He was not frightened of it. We’re entering an age in television where the whole backend syndication model is kind of being recalibrated. What they’re trying to do at TV Land is, they’re not playing that short game. It’s a long game.

What’s happening with comedy on TV right now?

We live in this golden age of dramas. There’s no reason why there can’t be great comedies. I went through two rounds of a pilot at CBS. For two years, we were the golden boys. That’s what CBS was telling me for two years. And before that NBC told me that. Now Jeannie and I are just saying it to each other. The way we constructed this, it’s not constructed on bureaucracy. There’s no writers’ room. Jeannie and I wrote all the scripts. We edit the episodes. We do it all ourselves. If you want it done the way you want, you kind of have to do it that way.

Do you draw inspiration from any comedian-driven sitcoms?

I would say there’s something about Bob Newhart. I grew up watching reruns of Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett. It’s not awkward pause comedy, where it’s like, “Look at this guy.” And it’s not so cynical that it doesn’t try to be funny. And that’s why I put it on the website. Because rather than me describing it, I want people to draw their own conclusions. I think standup comedy is one of the only forms of the entertainment industry that’s a meritocracy. You either go up there and you do the job — or not. That’s why I want the Internet to put it out there. You guys decide.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content